10 Ways To Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams (Don’t Fall For These)

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The rate at which people lose their hard-earned monies online to fake companies masquerading as Affiliate Marketing site is sickening! I have had it!

The internet is full of legitimate online business opportunities. Similarly, there are millions of scammers taking advantage of innocent citizens and robbing them in broad daylight. The most common target lately is those who want to venture into Affiliate Marketing.

There is a reason why con men are out looking for opportunities to steal your money. Affiliate marketing works. In my opinion Affiliate Marketing is the best online business model you can ever find.

It is growing in leaps and bounds. Affiliate marketing is not dead or dying just because there are scammers. It will continue to grow as long as online purchases continue to grow.

So, if you want to start an affiliate marketing business but not sure if it is the right decision, I will tell you right now: go for it. But beware of fake affiliate marketing companies.

I am writing this article to show you what fake affiliate marketing looks like. I will also show you the legitimate affiliate marketing model. The true legitimate type of business you should follow to be successful online.

Table Of Contents

How To Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams

These are some of the most common features of affiliate marketing scams that you should be aware of.

1. They Advertise Posh Lifestyles

Most scammers want to sell you on the idea of living a posh lifestyle, earning insane amounts of money. We are human, we all want to live happy lives without having to count every little coin in the wallet.

This is how con artists are able to appeal to our psychology. The show you expensive cars, mansions, yachts, expensive holiday destinations that they are currently enjoying and tell you that you too can achieve that. They will lie to you and say within a short period you can be rich if you sign up with them and let them show you how they did it.

How To Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams - Rich Woman Carrying Lots Of Luxury Shopping Bags

2. They Sell Their Affiliate Marketing Courses Extremely Expensively

Somebody tells you “I am going to show you my exact methods, the strategies that I have developed over the years. I suffered and failed a million times before I could master these strategies. I spent millions of dollars on courses and services to finally get the best strategies.

” Now I want to give them to you so that you don’t have to suffer as I did. I will give you my methods TODAY ONLY for just a low amount of …$XXXX” (some ridiculous amount!).”

Ever come across some of these online?

Don’t get me wrong, not everyone who sells training courses is a scammer. Also, I would not expect anyone to work hard and give away their courses for free. All I’m saying is beware of those ridiculous amounts. Think twice before buying. Do your research first.

3. They Have Strict Income Disclaimers

Don’t you just love how these guys can try to sell you on earning huge amounts of money quickly using their methods, and then make a u-turn and tell you how the results are not guaranteed?

I see these all over. These kinds of contradictions should immediately raise red flags to you.

Here is an example:

“The average annualized income for all Affiliates, whether inactive or active, during the year of 20xx was $78.05The earnings of the Affiliates in this chart are not guarantees of the income, if any, which an XYZ Affiliate can or will earn through his or her participation in the XYZ Compensation Plan.

The average Affiliate spends $100/month in expenses as they build their business (not including advertising budget and purchasing other products and/or services we recommended our Affiliate also market). Less than 1% earns sufficient commissions to cover their ongoing costs of XYZ’s products.

Note that it takes hard work to make substantial income in this business and some affiliates make no money at all. Success in this business requires leadership, hard work and dedication, just like anything you do in life”

4. They Have Multiple Layers

Any “Affiliate Marketing” company that has a multi-layered structure is not real. Multilevel Marketing (MLM) companies – aka Network Marketing, are the ones with multiple layers. Rightly so, as the name suggests. MLM is another business model altogether. The moment MLM mixes with Affiliate Marketing, you should smell a rat.

Here is the thing, there are lots of legitimate MLM companies out there. Some people prefer this business model. They go into it fully aware of what they are getting into.

I personally don’t like the MLM business model. I don’t like the type of business where my ability to make money solely depends on recruiting other people.

There are some very shady MLM companies out there. Some of them are outright scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hates shady businesses, and shuts them down the moment they are deemed to be running scams.

In fact, the FTC has already deemed some MLM companies as Pyramid schemes and forced them shut. Pyramid Schemes are an illegal business model.

For this reason, some guys hide their MLM businesses behind Affiliate marketing to avoid being smoked out.

5. You Need A Sponsor To Join

I have personally come across many so-called affiliate marketing training companies where you cannot simply sign up on their website without having someone who has referred you!

The moment you see this, turn around and run. Whatever is being promoted is not legitimate affiliate marketing. It is something else. I am sure you can already see the multilayer forming with these kinds of companies.

6. Done For You Business

This is the scary one. As human beings, we often want things to come easy to us without having to do a lot of work. That’s deadly. It is one weakness that scammers catch a lot of unsuspecting people with.

It’s so sad. Every day, I see people who want to make money online without doing anything!

What? No way! It is not possible.

If you want to make money online, you have to know that you need to start a business. Just like an offline business, you need to work very hard on your online business too. Invest a lot of time and resources to make it a success.

There is no magic wand. Unfortunately, people still fall for promises to “do it all for you”.

How To Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams

Done-for-you businesses are legitimate but there is no done-for- you in affiliate marketing. You have to do it yourself/

Here are some of the common featured of Done-for-you businesses:

  • They build websites, landing pages, advertising material, sales funnels for you
  • The focus of their training is on paid traffic methods
  • They encourage you to focus on driving traffic(you pay) to promote their membership
  • You will make money by signing up more people to join
  • They don’t encourage you to learn the most important skills you need to succeed in business
  • If that company goes away, you will be left with little skills to start over

7. They Don’t Offer Free Trials

For me this is a deal breaker. I want a company that allows me to have a free feel of how their affiliate marketing training works. You need to know if the training is right for you before you can take our your credit card. What if they are selling you air?

Some guys have tried to find a way around this by allowing you try it for a few dollars, like say $7. Ok cool. Kudos to them. But you still need to be vigilant before you can be automatically billed. Is that what you truly want? If not you need to cancel and look for something worth your money.

8. No Money Back Guarantees

The moment they tell you that your purchase is final, there is no money back guarantee, take off! There is a huge risk right there staring you in the eye.

What’s the assurance that their product is what you really want? How do you buy into a company that shows from the get-go that they don’t care about customer satisfaction?

How To Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams

Here’s the deal, I can accept final purchase condition from the company that allows me a free trial first. at least I know what I’m buying before I buy. I won’t have any reason to demand my money back unless I am a big joke.

9. Hidden Costs / Ridiculous Upsells

This is another common one. On the surface, they promote an affiliate marketing training program which costs a reasonable amount of money ($47 – $99) per month. You quickly sign up. Once you are inside, they begin bombarding you with “better income opportunities”.

They convince you to buy their expensive upsells – as high $20,000 plus. They know that humans always want more. That’s another weakness they pry on.

The next thing you know, you are stuck with useless training materials, a huge credit card debt, and a negative bank balance. Wiseguys have made their buck and left you dry.

10. Complicated Compensations Plans

Any business opportunity that talks about the compensation plan should immediately raise your concern. Not just a compensation plan, fake affiliate marketing programs have plans that you need to crack your brain trying to understand them.

Features Of Legitimate Affiliate Marketing

  • There are no layered structures
  • No fluff advertising
  • They have your best interest at heart
  • Clear upfront costs
  • Simple commission plans
  • Comphresinvise training

How Legitimate Affiliate Marketing Works

How To Spot Affiliate marketing Scams - How Affiliate Marketing Works

Why You Should Do Affiliate Marketing

  • You can work from anywhere you want
  • A true source of affiliate income
  • Fairly affordable to start
  • No need to buy expensive products
  • You don’t have to develop complicated products
  • You don’t hold any inventory
  • You don’t deal with customer support

New To Affiliate Marketing? No Problem!

If you are a beginner and have no experience with affiliate marketing, the best move is to get started with the training. I highly recommend the best affiliate marketing training program which is beginner friendly – Wealthy Affiliate.

Wealthy Affiliate has a free membership plan to give you an idea of how their training works.

Their premium membership costs $49 per month but it gets cheaper if you pay an annual subscription.

 The Wealthy Affiliate Price

Here Is What You Can Expect At Wealthy Affiliate

The training focuses on helping you built your affiliate website. This is the foundation of your business. No need to worry, it is a simple task which does not need any complicated skills.

You get step by step training on both creating your website and monetizing it.

Wealthy Affiliate has a platform where you can check out affiliate programs to join and select relevant products to promote.

How To Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams - Wealthy Affiliate Affiliate Program Portal

There is a large active community of people ready to help you at any time. You can engage them in live chat sessions, or ask questions in relevant classrooms. The owners of Wealthy Affiliate Kyle and Carson are also available to address any issues you may have. There are weekly live webinars accessible to Premium members.


If anyone tries to sell you on an “Affiliate Marketing” program with these features, run.

  • Promises you quick riches
  • Has multiple layers
  • Ridiculous products you must buy
  • Complicated compensation plans
  • Everything is done for you
  • Your purchase is final
  • No free trials
  • You need a sponsor to participate
  • Ridiculous upsell
  • Income disclaimers

I hope this article has provided useful information on how to spot scam programs which hide behind affiliate marketing to rob people. Now that you know their tricks, I believe you will not fall for them.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post to help more people avoid scams.

I love to hear your thoughts, please comment below.

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